Lancashire Times
Weekend Edition
Andrew Palmer
Group Editor
1:00 AM 2nd December 2023

Classical Music: César Franck Piano Works

César Franck Piano Works

Piano Sonata No. 1; Prélude, Aria et Finale; Prélude, Choral et Fugue

Ingmar Lazar (piano)

Hänssler Classic HC22055

Ingmar Lazar has delved into his fellow compatriot César Franck’s life to show there is more to the 19th-century composer than just his organ works or his one and only symphony.

Franck was a virtuosic pianist, which Lazar, who has fully immersed himself in the composer's world, mirrors with a deft technique.

There’s plenty to enjoy in over 70 minutes, including Franck’s unpublished first sonata, written when the composer was just 13 years old but which he discarded. The jolly Rondo third movement is quite amazing for such a young boy to have written.

Lazar’s playing is considered to allow space for clarity and for the textures of each piece to shine. Franck’s melodies have a radiance that Lazar masterfully captures, ensuring the contrasts bring out the tonality. He creates an aural palette full of chromaticism that, at times, sounds orchestral.

Lazar performs the 15-minute Grand Caprice with assurance, delivering Lisztian heroic agility with ease and showcasing elegant quieter moments. The vibrancy and excitement with which Lazar performs never lose their musicality.

Lazar plays his all-Franck recital on a Bösendorfer piano, a marvellous tribute to the composer.